At the New System Dinner Table: Part 5–Sticking to Script

See Part 1 and Part 2) Part 3 Part 4

The former guard regales his tablemates with how he became a disciple. ‘With Jehovah’s help and the patience of these good people [pass the Bible chips, please] I was baptized before the start of the great tribulation.’

Can you believe it?—Ensconced in his Zoom couch, Oscar Oxgoad appends to the remark, “but it really sucked for those who were only in the middle of their baptism questions!"

What is wrong with him? I mean, you can go there, but why? Think it’s easy writing a Bible drama? It’s not. If you’re content to let your Moses pop Pharaoh in the nose and get the girl it is but we don’t do that. You have to stick to script. It makes for some clunky dialogue now and then, but you have to stick to script. If there’s one thing we know about Jehovah’s people, it is that they will stick to script. 

HQ is locked into that big book they follow. “Baptism, which corresponds to [the ark, in which you had to be on it to survive]  is also now saving you,” says 1 Peter 3:21. They can’t just blow past that verse as though it was nothing. If any of them harbor secret thoughts that God will go all-softy at the last moment like in Nineveh they must keep that to themselves.

It is a consequence of taking ‘knowledge by revelation’—not personal revelation but the revelation coming from God’s communication with us, the Bible. They can’t go ‘empirical evidence’ that God has gone all-softy in the past so maybe he will this time too. They can’t tell him what to do. It’s all very nice to say when individually queried about whether this or that person will make it through Armegeddon, “Well, I’m not Jesus and I don’t know,” but in your video you have to be bound by 1 Peter.

It’s a little like when Bro Morris related at the Atlanta Regional how he desperately needed to have cash on hand by a certain date, that such cash was contingent on the sale of his house, and said house wasn’t selling. “It’s getting a little tight, here,” he related how he had looked heavenward, but then added, “He’s God. He can do what he likes.” Per this theory, God apparently gave him a break, for it did sell at the last second. Relieved, Morris streamlined a few procedures. The buyer commented, ‘It isn’t usually done that way,’ and he retorted, ‘It is today.’

Same here. God gave those Ninevites a pass when they shaped up with seconds to go, but you can’t tell him he must repeat the procedure. He’s God. He can do what he likes and he doesn’t spill on every little thing.

Oscar Oxgoad giving me a hard time over this! And to think his brother Ozzie gives me a hard time the other way! “In my opinion, things will have to reach a point where world powers (or whoever) is seconds away from pushing the nuclear button, and at that point Jehovah will step in to prevent the earth from blowing up,” he says.

Oh yeah, I answered. And the clock will read 666 instead of 007 and the big fried thug will be the one with his horns stuck in the bars. Background music yet to be determined. An original song yet to be composed, no doubt.

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(Photo: Den Haag Louwman Museum) 

To be continued: 

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At The New System Dinner Table, Part 3–Tales of Pursuing Peace

(See Part 1 and Part 2)

Mmm, this counsel is delicious! Nancy, you really must tell me your recipe!

I don’t have to. You have it in your recipe book already, same as it is in mine! It’s in the Taste and See Psalms section. It’s so good!

Yum—pass the Bible sandwiches please. I’ll have another.

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We sure have had fine conversation along with some surprises. Here is Tim the guard, come into the truth because the guard at Acts 16:25 came into the truth when he heard Paul and Silas sing. And what a delight to hear from Mefibberpest, that faithful man of old who no one can pronounce his name! I think we have time for one more experience. Is there anyone else here who cleared up a misundstanding to make peace with a brother? Connery?

I faced a trial like that, brother. Truetom said something about me online that I thought was an insult. He is a brother who blogs on the internet.

A blogger. Oh my. What happened?

Well, I started to follow him on Twitter. After he found out, he began referring to me as “that elder, the worst speaker in the circuit, possibly the world, who follows me on Twitter so I try to make it worth his while.”  I was offended. It’s not true.

No, I would say not, Connery. The world is a very big place. Did you report him to the elders?

No. I decided to do like Jesus said at Matthew 18:15, that if you think your brother has committed a sin, you go and talk to him about it first. So I approached him.

What excuse did he offer?

He said he thought I was okay with it because I had said I was. He also said he tries to keep a virtual presence in the virtual neighborhood the same as someone keeps a physical presence in their physical neighborhood. That way he can interact with online neighbors, just like people interact with physical neighbors, and sometimes get to put in a good word for God.

Hmm. Well, he seems to mean well, but . . . 

He also said he likes to use humor, even about himself, because people like humor and he wants to reach them. But I told him not everyone has a sense of humor so he should stop. 

I like your reasoning. Did you win him over?

I thought I did. But then overnight—I’m not saying it was him—someone defaced my truck. See?

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I like it that you don’t jump to conclusions, brother. That’s maturity at work. I don’t think he would do that. Truetom is a little bit ‘out there,’ but he’s basically a good guy.

(Photo: Unknown. Meme pics on social media are common property, so far as I know. If it’s yours, claim it.)

To be continued…here.

 

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At the New System Dinner Table, Part 2: Tales of Forgiveness

(Part 1 here)

Okay, TrueTom, it’s your turn at the New System dinner table. Did you make peace with anyone that later saved you from strangling her in prison? Anyone that can put up with you—that’s saying a lot. Come on, spill.”

”Yes, brothers, I had such a trial. I had almost lost my peace with a certain sister. I had used the D-word online, as in “You would think that the same d**n button that puts you in private mode would take you out again, but nooo!” —and she was offended by it.”

No!

”Yavolle. Your English is no good, she said. That clearly indicates that you are pagan. Whereas others are instructed in the proper use of English, you are clearly not. And although you speak of God’s name on the several diverse social media forums, I can tell that you are really not for him!” (sung to the My Fair Lady tune of You Did It)

”Whoa! That really must have been a test for you, Truetom. What did you do?”

”I told her about when an elder backed into my car when it was parked in the turnaround spot where he did not expect it to be and said ‘Sh*t!’ He apologized and I said, ‘Don’t worry about it. That’s what bumpers are for.”

And I also thanked her for for contacting me to apologize for calling me out in front of other digital people, said an apology was not necessary, and that I could stand a rebuke now and then, that it did me good.

That certainly is an upbuilding experience, TrueTom. Thank you for sharing. But now it’s time for our nightly serenade in the courtyard. Tonight, we will be singing the tune ‘Jailhouse Rock.’ Who knows?—maybe a guard will be listening. That verse in Acts about Paul and Silas shows they do that sometimes.

(The guard did afterward make the observation that, ‘Even though you were prisoners, you were ‘truly free.’ This may be an allusion to Emily Baran’s book, an allusion I also picked up in ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses’ of a Russian guard observing Witnesses singing in the gulag, who remarked, “Truly only someone who has internal freedom can become a Jehovah’s Witness.”)

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To be continued here

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Little Enemies of God

Vic Vomodog, with whom I used to pull shoulder to shoulder in the work! —just like a couple of oxen, was busy as an ox throughout the Pursue Peace Regional Convention, taking detailed notes! Afterwards, he threw at me:

“I know you wouldn’t dare comment on what GB Stephen Lett said during your convention,” before quoting Lett’s, “You hear people say of a little baby, ‘look at that little angel’, but more accurate would be to say, ‘look at that little enemy of God’”

You don’t think so, do you?

“Then Tom Harley, also called Tom Sheepandgoats, becoming fed up, looked at him intently  and said: “O man full of every sort of fraud and every sort of villainy, you son of the Devil, you enemy of everything righteous, will you not quit distorting the right ways of Jehovah?  (Acts 13:9-10)

What Lett said was: 

“Now, if we think about it, we're not born as friends of God because we're born as sinful offspring of Adam. Actually, when we think about it, we're born as enemies of God. Sometimes you'll hear people say of a little baby, ‘Look at that little angel,’ but more accurate would be to say, ‘Look at that little enemy of God.’ Now, of course we love that little baby and it's now not hopeless because our loving creator has made reconciliation with him within the reach of everyone. We can become a good friend of God and that close relationship with Jehovah will become our most valuable possession.”

Notice how he twice said, ‘when we think about it?’ You have to do that—think about things. You don’t just parrot sound bites to make people you don’t like look bad. O, you spiteful fellow, who quotes scripture by the bushel basket but never lays hold on the one that applies, besides the reference to Adam in Genesis, the place to focus is here:

“…through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because they had all sinned—.” Romans 5:12

when we were enemies we became reconciled to God through the death of his Son,” by exercising faith in him, which a baby cannot yet do, and thus is temporarily ‘grandfathered’ via the faith of it’s parents. (vs 10)

Now, as for Bro Lett, for a guy who will quote Job 12:11, “Does not the ear test out words As the tongue tastes food?” you’d almost think he’d test them out a little more before letting loose with a phrase that every evil cherry picker will use to “distort the right ways of Jehovah.”

But I hate to think what Vomodog would have done to Jesus, for his, ‘Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has everlasting life, and I will resurrect him on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink.’ John 6:54-55

Vomodog taunted, “Please tell me if he is truly adhering to and following Christ as a model.”

Taking into consideration that passage in John, I would say Lett is supremely adhering to and following Christ as a model, in fact, more so than any of the other HQ staff.

Imagine: what sort of vile person would comb through a convention in which every talk explores the theme verse (Psalm 34:14) ‘Seek peace and pursue it’ to find and exploit a faux pas?

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Gif: Crying baby gifs/ tenor

It may be just an example of God ‘laughing at the wisdom of this systems’s wise ones,’ proof that his anointed are, as in the first century, seldom of ‘noble birth,’ nor ‘wise,’ but decidedly ‘uneducated and ordinary.’

I’ll take substance over style any day. Turn on the TV and you can see endless people whose ‘style’ is impeccable. Among them are some of the stupidest people whom God ever let roam the earth.

 

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How Many Are the Cows?

Our chum watched the video of Olivia being mocked by classmates. It would never happen that way, she said.  Why not? we asked. Things aren’t that bad?

They wouldn’t ridicule her like that. They’d beat her up in the bathroom instead, she said.

I do remember being guest at the home of some friends where the daughter matter-of-factly spoke of how at the school she used to attend girls would attack each other with box-cutters. They liked to sneak up on unsuspecting ones, preferring to disfigure the face.

We had no idea.

Not to say this would happen everywhere.. I think it would not. We once lived where there was a gritty school system. Long ago, I wrote of how the departing school superintendent was interviewed by local media about his tenure. This fellow was hailed as a superstar when he arrived, one sure to raise the sinking ship. He left in short order for greener pastures.

He answered his interviewer with a bewildering set of buzzwords. Not to fear, I wrote. The skilled interpreter of ‘Educatese’ has no difficulty comprehending the underlying message: Don’t expect any changes in your lifetime.

It was prophetic. Here we are decades later and there have been no changes. Well—that’s not technically correct. Things have gotten worse.  The SEC recently launched an investigation into that District’s internal finances. How often does THAT happen? And the education of the kids? Sigh…Fuhgeddaboudit.

We didn’t want to leave the area at the time, even though we have since. We figured we’d homeschool the kids. No regrets, though it does put you out of sync with the agencies. Even before school, we went through all the Glenn Doman number cards with our babies, I am convinced to good effect—and even in the event it was not it was fun and took almost no time.

At one point, following a Doman cue, we asked our infant to pick up the placard that was 57, as opposed to 56 and 58, dots all mixed up with no underlying pattern—the number written on the back so you would know. Instantly he did. But Doman said you can’t do it twice; infants get bored and they will not do it for show. Sure enough, when we tried again, he would not.

Coincidence? Dunno. It was a one out of three chance, after all, so coincidence is certainly possible.  But he reached for it instantly, with no hesitation at all.

The point was, in building your baby’s ‘better’ brain (Yikes!—Building Back Better) A8BD1D53-6D86-4E70-B1E7-194A94FA9B1Ethat if you see 3 or 4 cows in the field you instantly read them for their true number, but at some point you must start counting, 1…2…3…4…5…. The idea with the flash cards for an infant’s rapidly expanding brain was that you could push way up that point at which you had to start counting; that it could take in 56 at a glance. Doman’s flash cards went up to 100. 

Davey-the-Kid went after that system with an almost missionary zeal that embarrassed him later. He was there, all right, at that pricey weeklong seminar in Philly (where I wan’t). ‘How’s field service?’ Ernie asked him over the phone but he replied he hadn’t gone out in service. “How’s the meetings?” Ernie asked but he replied he hadn’t been to any. “Did you pray?” Ernie said in mock exasperation.

We’re talking about the guy who installed a 3 foot swimming pool in his heated basement so he could teach his baby to swim, another thing that was all the rage. Davey passed away some years ago, but his son is still with us. Come to think of it, if you asked me whether or not the kid can swim, I’d draw a blank.

 

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My 50-Year Battle with the Daily Text

For years I ignored the daily text. I didn’t oppose it. I just focused on other things. It was sort of bite-sized, too insubstantial to make such a fuss over, or so it seemed.

This avoidance did not change even when I was assigned the text at a convention. “You know that time when people read the back of the breakfast cereal box?” I asked my participant. “That’s when we read the text.” To be sure, with the children, either my wife or I did cover a daily text, my wife more so than me. My work schedule was squirrelly back in the day. But I always downplayed it.

I even implied a certain derision of the text with John Wheatandweeds, who (in the Tom Irregardless and Me review of Ivor E Tower), “hinders members from their door to door ministry by spending inordinate amounts of time discussing the text of the day.” How well I remember old-timers rattling on about the text before field service. Sometimes they went on for so long that you didn’t feel like service any longer by the time they were done. Tom Irregardless and Me showcases a “battle” between Bethel and John Wheatandweeds to shorten up that morning discussion to seven minutes—a battle that eventually ended in a draw. He doesn’t get them out in seven minutes, but neither is it all day. And sometimes the time saved inside is squandered away in the parking lot.

So here I am years later in Zoom Covid days, days that nobody could have anticipated, and the congregation service groups launch into discussions of the daily text, and it has become a highlight of the day! It only took 50 years. Gasp! Have I become one of those old-timers?

That convention text discussion was the 2nd time I had been assigned a part. The prior year was my first, and I had been told to report at the chairman’s office where I would be escorted to the platform at the proper time. So for the second year, my participant and I hung out at the chairman’s office waiting for our escort. What I did not know was the prior year’s procedure was specific to that chairman’s organization.

“Shouldn’t I be escorted to the platform by now?” I asked at the desk as the opening song began to play. I got the fastest escort in theocratic history. The brother opening the program looked not too comfortable—his eyes scanning the crowd for his successor to show up. I have told the story in No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash.

I don’t know for sure, but I think it would not happen today. There is value in standardization.

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“Close Friendship With Jehovah Brings the Greatest Joy” was the Title of the Talk.

“It can’t be pleasing to Jehovah when we fixate on the negative,” was a theme of Anthony Morris’s talk Friday PM at the Regional Convention. It is a choice. An unconscious choice, maybe, and difficult to retrain—but it ought be the aim. The talk was entitled: Close Friendship With Jehovah Brings the Greatest Joy!

“All creation keeps on groaning,” he said, quoting Romans 8:22, but does that mean we should go into it full mode, too? Though the backdrop was unpleasant in Habakkuk’s time, he was set on rejoicing: “Although the fig tree may not blossom and there may be no fruit on the vines; although the olive crop may fail and the fields may produce no food; Although the flock may disappear from the pen, and there may be no cattle in the stalls; Yet, as for me, I will exult in Jehovah;I will be joyful in the God of my salvation.” he said. (Habakkuk 3:17-18)

Instead, practice being like Jesus in as many ways as possible, was the thrust of the talk. Practice giving and people will give to you—stingy people are never happy—stop judging and you will no means be judged. He didn’t say “Don’t start judging,” but “stop judging,” because they already were. It made me think of how the same speaker had handled the counsel of Jesus at Matthew 6:25: “Stop being anxious about your lives as to what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your bodies as to what you will wear,” and in this case reiterated it as though one might a child: “Just, stop it!” planting the idea that it was not uncontrollable. He didn’t say, “Don’t be anxious,” as though they weren’t already. He said “Stop being anxious,” conceding that they were.

Other points touched on in that talk: Don’t be envious of others, don’t begrudge someone’s material prosperity, because “jeolousy is rottenness to the bones.” (Proverbs 14:30) Brother Morris has a way of murmuring through his own talks, appearing to reason it out as he goes, so that no one in a thousand years would accuse him of “speechmaking.”

And what to make of 1 Peter 4:15? “Let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or a wrongdoer or a busybody in other people’s matters.” Most people would rate murderer as super-serious, thief somewhat less so, and busybody so far down the scale as to hardly register, yet Peter mentioned them all in the same breath.

Don’t be a busybody, was his admonition, and being a busybody usually stems from being dissatisfied in one’s own life. “All the days of the aflicted ones are bad”—Morris quoted Proverbs 15:15, so try to dwell on the second half of the verse: “But the one with a cheerful heart has a continual feast,” and strive hard to squeeze out the “poor me” attitude, needlessly focusing on the afflictions. Agonizing over problems that are beyond our control cannot be pleasing to God, instead, try to focus on the more productive things—things that we can do.

It occurred to me afterwards that this year we are not really calling it a ‘Regional Convention.’ With the entire convention moved online due to Covid-19, the “region” it covers is pretty big. This is it is just the “2020 Convention of Jehovah’s Witnesses” with the theme “Always Rejoice,” which can be streamed from the jw.org website.

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American’s Frontline Doctors and the Canceled JW Conventions—Tying Together Two Topics that You Wouldn’t Think Could Be Tied Together At All

When I heard the truncated clip, I was disappointed. It makes our guy look like a religious nut. “It’s a modern-day miracle,” he says, seemingly his lead-off line about the Jehovah’s Witnesses move to present their annual summer conventions online.

It’s not a modern-day miracle. It’s a technological accomplishment—an impressive one, to be sure—after all, it involves 500 languages, done on a crash basis, and broadcast worldwide—but it is not a “miracle.” It is not Jesus walking on water. Forgive me if I admit that when I first saw the clip with that as his lead statement, I supposed that the man was a nut—an over enthusiastic zealot who had drunk too much of his own Kool-Aid.

Yet, do I not come across the entire interview several days later to find it of a completely different flavor? It turns out that he is not that way at all—his remarks were framed to make him sound a fanatic by a media that feels it their duty to do so when dealing with matters of faith, something that is not their forte. He never meant the “miracle” remark literally. It’s a gush of enthusiasm such as anyone will have upon completing an overwhelming project. It is Neil Armstrong saying “one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” It is a throw-off line of hyperbole that comes 5 minutes into the interview—not the lead-off pronouncement of the truncated version.

This is so infuriating, but also so typical. Everyone will say something in the course of 15 minutes that can be misconstrued by those of another agenda—who simply can’t get their heads around a different point of view or may even be trying to deliberately sabotage it—to make the person look like a nut.

I almost wonder if something similar is now at work with the doctor from Cameroon recommending the hydroxychloroquine drug for Covid 19. There were ten doctors who banded together for a public statement before the steps of the Supreme Court, but because this one (Stella Immanuel) has made remarks in her past about demons, and the others presumably have not, she becomes the sole media focus to discredit the lot of them. The other nine are sent out to pasture.

I don’t often speak on my blog of demons, nor of the devil. Much of my target audience chokes at mention of God, so should I really send them into orbit with posts of the devil? Besides, humans are perfectly capable of doing evil things all on their own—a line of demarcation is hard to draw.

But neither do I think someone should be pilloried for bringing up the topic, much less when it has nothing to do with the story at hand. If anything, I am the expedient chicken, not her. Anyone who knows anything about Africa knows that belief in interaction with the spirits is well-nigh universal. She is to be expected not to pick up on it? Let the thinkers today get a handle on evil—even eradicate it a little bit—before they go ridiculing those who go off their materialistic script.

At root, though the doctor and our guy may be poles apart, the reason to trash them is the same, or at least it is a kissing cousin: they are both serious about things not endorsed by today’s prevailing atheistic materialistic view. In her case, there may be more to the story—something that is deliberately discredited. In our case, there certainly is. Us first:

Robert Hendricks, spokesperson for Jehovah’s Witnesses, speaks of how both the door-to-door ministry and the annual conventions have been suspended for the first time in history. The reasons are telling—that of “respect for life” and “love of neighbor.” Probably no one has more potential to spread the Covid 19 virus than Jehovah’s Witnesses in their old model. Not only do they routinely approach people, but their organization is the largest convention-holding one in the world—people converge sometimes by the tens of thousands for events held in stadiums. We just couldn’t see ourselves doing that this year, Hendricks said. With a lead-in time of only about a month, Witnesses put the entire event online to be streamed worldwide.

Their organization had gone into lockdown even before governments began to require it. “Just because you can drive 75 mph in some areas doesn’t mean that you should,” he stated. I told the CultExpert, he of the #freedomofmind hashtag, that “our” people were more responsible than his. Our people promptly and without fuss laid low—Covid 19 would be long gone by now if all were like them—but “his” people? You don’t think many of them will use their “freedom of mind” to tell the government what it can do with its rules?

Frankly, since media jumps all over churches that defy “science” by gathering, you would think they would praise to the heavens one that has set the example for being proactive. Yet, even when trying to compliment, they are hamstrung by a mindset that pronounces religion outmoded. Even as the New York Times covers the socially responsible move, (that of suspending the door-to-door ministry, not that of the conventions, which came later), they take for granted that it is done only for the sake of appearances. The decision “followed anguished discussions at Watchtower headquarters with leaders deciding March 20 that knocking on doors would leave the impression that members were disregarding the safety of those they hoped to convert,” as though the safety itself doesn’t mean a hill of beans to them. “Members are called on to share scriptures in person with nonmembers,” it wrote. Well, in fact they are called to do it, but it is by the scriptures themselves, and not the commands of HQ, as they like to frame it. “Now if I am declaring the good news, it is no reason for me to boast, for necessity is laid upon me. Really, woe to me if I do not declare the good news!” writes the apostle at 1 Corinthians 9:16. Why do these materialistic ones not just say that the Bible itself is a “cult manual” and be done with it?

As to the 500 languages (1000 in print): the interview branched into this as the newsman asked some questions—it turns out that his mom is a Witness, and he thanked Hendricks for keeping her safe. The languages feat can be done because there is no profit motive, Hendricks said. That’s why no one else even comes close—Google, Apple, Amazon—no one. “There’s no end to what can be done if there is not a profit motive,” he said.

A cynical me says that he will probably be fired for going so far “off-script.” Naw—I don’t really think he will be, but if it is like the Cameroon doctor, he could be. She and her fellow doctors were promptly muzzled on social media for “spreading misinformation.” Will the News13 reporter be accused of “enabling” it as well?

Her turn: A major study of the Henry Ford Healthcare System in Detroit finds that the drug hydroxychloroquine is extremely effective. Why it is trashed as it is, I will never know. But since it is dirt cheap, and since the President has recommended it, it is hard not to think that either or both or these facts suggest possible reasons. 

By the time, the Henry Ford study was released, media had already reached the verdict that the drug was no good. This was based upon an earlier study published in Lancet that said hydroxychloroquine was ineffective, and in fact, even dangerous. However, Lancet later retracted their article. The reason they retracted it is that it was of a study that had not been submitted to peer review. The reason it had not been submitted to peer review is that it would have failed—it was a very sloppy study, sabotaged in numerous ways. The reason it was taken up by the media anyway, despite being so sloppy, is that it discredited Trump, who first said he liked the stuff and later that he even took it. Everything is politicized today—everyone gets into the fray of battling over who will rule the world.

Hydroxychloroquine has been around forever, a mainstay of treatment for several ills. It would have been run off the road long ago were it so dangerous. It is extremely cheap—another reason to attack it from an entirely different quarter—Remdesivir, a competing treatment, costs $1000 per dose! Does the cheaper drug have side effects? Just listen to the side effects of drugs relentlessly hawked on TV today—it is enough to scare your socks off. Cardiologist Dr. William O’Neill, medical director at the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, Michigan, director of the Detroit study said: “I've never seen science [so] politicized in 40 years of practice.”

 

 

 

 

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One Virtual Convention Replaces a Few Hundred Physical Ones

It started yesterday, just after the congregation meeting via zoom, just like Rocky said it would. It is divided up into 6 sessions, to be streamed from the website. The invitation is to view them directly after the abbreviated Watchtower Study, but they can be watched anytime.

I appreciated that the program went on with barely a hiccup, transferred to virtual. You just know that Zoom is giving people ideas. It works so well that even when the ‘coast is clear’ signal is given—assuming that it is someday—it will still play some role yet to be determined. At the very least, it will be the new option for people who can’t physically get to meetings, replacing the telephone tie-in. I could be wrong, but...let us be perfect candid...how likely is that?

Remember how Wayne Whitepebble used to carry on about the huge expense per family to attend? Even with economizing and choosing hotels on the recommended lodging list, it still was an annual expense of several hundred dollars. I wouldn’t be surprised if virtual supplements actual to some extent in the future.

On the first day, I liked the many stadium shots of Regional Conventions during the music introduction, and I even prefer the song in languages I do not understand—it gives it more of an international flavor.

Not only did they all start yesterday—actually just one now—but the entire world membership and their guests saw it. Even foreign languages—Rocky says last year there were about 100–saw the same speakers, with translation dubbed in. Of course, speakers at the Regionals of previous years have never been clunkers, but this year it is Governing Body members and their direct helpers—even better.

Some wiseacre has put out a meme, and it has been going around for awhile, of how to “prepare” for the virtual convention. It involves replicating all the inconveniences, and even aggravations, of the actual physical conventions. It’s very funny, and the friends love it.

Suggestions include making sure that you choose an uncomfortable chair to sit in, and then ramming another chair directly in front of it so you have no foot room. Make sure that you have an unstable platform for taking notes so that your notes (or even device) is sure to fall on the floor a time or two—and so forth—there are about a dozen of them. I even added one directed to a group of youthful sisters online—prepare ahead of time photos of all the eligible brothers so that you may engage in “fellowshopping” between sessions. 

Some of the dozen of so items of the list are not aggravating at all—they are merely inconveniences that are part of the package—they even contribute to the annual excitement. Still, streaming offers a way around much of what frustrates, while saving each family a huge amount of dough. We will see how much of it survives. Already in Rochester, at the last moment last year, Regional Conventions were cancelled at the location we had been using for 30 years. A change in management dramatically hiked the rates, and also (I am told) insisted that all pass through metal detectors manned by the facilities‘ own staff in order to enter. Disney on Ice, along with some Monster Truck Rally, also cancelled.

Through the years, Witnesses have developed a huge attendant department that will be far more vigilant than anything building management can come up with and that can spot a suspicious character blocks away, but new management would yield on nothing. We are to believe that some sleepy door employee, paid as little as possible, who will shake down a old man for a nail clipper and let an occasional knife slip by—we all know how these things work—is going to be more effective than our own people—alert due to love of those they protect? I don’t think so.

Witnesses canceled, with about three weeks to go before start of convention. Things hung in the air, though all were assured, and nobody doubted, that alternative arrangements would be made. They were—all was transferred to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, about four hours away for my wife and I. This year (prior to Covid-19) the entire 2020 Convention was going to be held at the Assembly Hall—an unheard of development (at least for me) that would entail splitting it up into a dozen different sections. 

It also doesn’t hurt that a small but very vociferous bevy of protesters is also thwarted by the switch—one reason the attendant department was so well organized was to prevent these ones getting in the face of visitors who aimed only to attend the convention in peace. The world has gone nuts in protesting things, and it can lead to the impression that many people don’t really have much to do with their lives. 

So changes were already underway In some places, and now with Covid-19, maybe some new ones may endure even once the all-clear signal is given. Unprecedented recent chaos made more timely the point raised by the keynote speaker, Kenneth Cook: “Is it possible to rejoice as the world crumbles around us?” It certainly is crumbling, and there isn’t a lot of hope among the general populace these days.

I had been told that Mark Sanderson’s talk Friday morning would be super-encouraging, on how one may “rejoice under persecution,” and it was. It even, as though for a personal zing to me, concluded with the same experience that I have used to conclude ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’—of a Russian brother sentenced to prison, who in slightly tongue-in-cheek fashion (which may or may not have been wise), invited the court to consider several years into the future, where there will be so many Witnesses in prison, and they will have so many Bible studies there—he had worked out the ratios—that when their sentences were up, they will not want to leave, and the Russian court would regret having ever sent them there in the first place. “He has a way with words, doesn’t he?” I concluded the book. “And math.”

(Like Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia, I have used Covid-19 time to clear up blips, typos, and punctuation faux pas in ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ that should have been cleared up before release, but I am only one person who had no idea how stubborn those things would be to get out, There were not nearly so many as the other book—the original was composed differently—but there were some, particularly at the end where I had very sloppily appended some updates post-publication. They’re all cleaned up, now.)

Then, too, there was that series of videos—the kind they always have—on ordinary scenarious and snares with which to cope. My wife has worked in machine shops. When that brother in the video dumped his cup of coffee and fried out the machine, she knew what that machine was. She knew how much it cost. She knew how much trouble he was in.

Did anyone else think that the janitor peering through the glass panel of the door—who saw it all—could have been like old Roger Chillingsworth had that brother tried to hide his ”sin?” Maybe he would have tormented the brother’s conscience until years later he would collapse on the floor, and co-workers would rip open his shirt to see “I did it” branded on his chest.

I sort of liked the line, “It even smells of coffee,” as they were thinking how feasible it might be to try to cover it up, before the brother decided (rather promptly) to fess up.

 

 

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’

Sam Herd and the Brother With the Rotten Attitude

“What did you learn that was new at the 2019 ‘Love Never Fails’ Regional Convention?”

It is a question from a sorehead. It is from a brother in good standing (or at least, not bad) though how that can be I will never know, for a more faultfinding person you will never find—and the faultfinding only escalates as he ventures up the leadership ‘hierarchy,’ since he holds them responsible for whatever he thinks did not work out in his own life. I mean, he doesn’t exactly have a fine attitude.

I know I cannot answer earnestly a question like this, for it will surely be thrown back in my face—it always is. In fact, this may be the type of fellow that I promised the elders I would not engage with again, but since I have no doubt that he truly is a brother—attending meetings and all—I answered him thus:

“I took a great many notes with the intent to write up a post or two that never materialized, crowded out by too many other things to do. It was in between days that I, for the first time ever, blocked several apostates at once as they had, for the first time ever, ganged up on me. They had pierced my up-to-then successful armor of always linking to a post with my replies, effectively answering their 50 words with my 1000.

But like the Borg, they adapted. Like charging a hill, caring not if they got mowed down, they started to came at me anyway. I would return to the hotel from a day at the convention and find a score or more of nastigrams from them, eager to call attention to some unflattering headline somewhere—all this with a wife who wanted to go out to supper or walk or just unwind, and who is not terribly enthused about my online activity in the first place. So I blasted them all away, and for reasons I no longer recall—I must have been watching Star Trek reruns, I drew heavily on that show for symbolism:

What did I learn at the 2019 ‘Love Never Fails’ Regional Convention? I learned that Brother Herd, who may not even know what political correctness is, will never reprove me for ‘fat-shaming.’ He was a keynote speaker, from the Governing Body, and his talks were streamed in from the larger Phoenix gathering he was attending.

Establishing the point that it is the heart that matters, Brother Herd posed the quandary of marrying the woman—an excellent catch—with a heart of pure gold, even though she “clocks in at 200 pounds.” Is this fellow a diplomat or what?

Everybody loves Brother Herd—maybe even more so than Brother Lett, whom some secretly fear may be too over the top. Herd has to be the most humble man on earth. How can he not be? Born to a father in his old age—a mule driver—one of 8 or 9 children, he said at the convention that for the longest time he thought that “a chicken only had a neck and a back because that’s all he ever got.”

Look, outsiders will never ever ever get it about how such a man can become one of the Governing Body, but it harkens back to something I once posted about how the GB is Plato’s dream come true: a monarchy type of governing in which the members are selected by merit, not by family line—and how that model assumes persons who do exist in the overall world—modest, non-materialistic, not power hungry—I mean, those persons do exist, but such are the values of this world that they can never ‘rise to the top.’ In Jehovah’s earthly organization, however, they can and do rise to the top—and part of their very qualifications is that they do not regard themselves as ‘rising to the top’ but only displaying a willingness to serve.

At any rate, I got a lot of mileage out of him when some opposer posted footage of him shaking hands with well-wishers at the airport and tried to spin it that JWs make him an object of worship and that he eats it all up. Anyone who knows the slightest thing about the man knows that he practically scowls at the attention, but what can he do? There they are. They love him. He loves them, so he shakes everyone’s hand. “Imagine: Who would be so nasty and petty to begrudge an old man acknowledging the well-wishing of friends?” I tweeted. It was one of my most liked tweets of all time.

I even have Sam down twice in ‘Tom Irregardless and Me.’ There is ‘Chapter 2 - Sam Herd’ and ‘Chapter 18 - Sam Herd.’ He had given some talk so humble, and yet so profound, that I used it to bookend my entire book—a book which, incidentally, I am using Covid time to refine a few rough edges out of it, so that anyone who has downloaded it might download it again and find it smoother.

He is not even a good speaker, really—Sam Herd isn’t—but he is such a captivating story-teller that it doesn’t matter. His stories are so down-to-earth, so human, so involved in the day-to-day of life—very much like Jesus’ illustrations—so connected with all that is ‘real’ about life, that he doesn’t have to spin erudite talks; his stories are such that everyone grasps the moral that he nowhere explicitly states.

“One thing is clear about jw.org,” a local brother said. “They don’t use paid actors.” No. You will never find people as unvarnished and real as are members of the Governing Body. You do not highlight people’s strengths. You highlight their weaknesses, though not in a fault-finding way, because in those weaknesses can be found God’s strength. If brilliant people accomplish brilliant things—well, it is easy to see why. But if decidedly non-brilliant people accomplish those things, it is not so easy to see why, and the credit goes to God. Three times the apostle Paul pleaded with God to remove a weakness. ‘Nothing doing,’ God replied. ‘I look better when you are a clod.’ (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’